Sunday, February 1, 2009

Geography and French lessons

Yesterday, a friend and I were reviewing a map of the States so I could show him the 3 cities I've lived in. He was asking if I'd seen a lot of snow because Washington's fairly far north, right?

Him: (pointing to Washington state) And you're from here, right?

Me: No...I live here. (points to the District of Columbia)

Him: Wait....where's the White House?

Me: Here. (points again to DC)

Him: Ohhh....wait, you mean Washington the city is not in Washington the state? Oh wow...I never knew that!

I then cleared up the difference between the state and the district (which, let's face it, is confusing because it's a city but it's also a district and not a state even though it has separate boundaries). I couldn't help but laugh and had to keep assuring him that it's really an easy mistake to make. I'm pretty sure I didn't know the difference for awhile, either. I mean, you've got Quebec, Quebec, New York, New York, so why not Washington, Washington? And I didn't know Ottawa was the capital of Canada until a few years ago, which is probably much worse...

And going with the French theme from last post, I went to dinner at another friend's uncle's house. She kept telling me that I speak French very well (like I'm from France, which she would know, because she lived in France). I still don't believe her, but another friend from Paris told me the exact same thing once. There may be something to that, though, because her mother, grandfather, and the rest of her family were also impressed. Quelque jour, je parlai couramment!

Her mother was explaining to me why Canadians (Maritimers in particular) are so wonderfully hospitable--because the conditions are so harsh, it's almost a survival instinct...stick together and don't leave anyone out or behind. That, she was telling me, is why so many of their activities are group or family-focused. And I have noticed that here--even on campus, people don't go many places by themselves. You rarely see anyone sitting alone at meal hall, and I've noticed that people even go to the grocery store in pairs or groups. That's a distinctive difference from what I'm used to in Washington (DC), where I have no problem doing just about everything by myself. I suppose that also has a lot to do with the small town mentality...but either way, it's one of those subtle differences. And it (like most other things) is a difference that I rather like.

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